FDNY’s Rebreather Task Force Conducts Full-Scale Rail Tunnel Emergency Exercise

L-R: Mark Elliot, Deputy Chief Safety Officer Compliance and Investigations, MTA Long Island Rail Road; John M. Esposito, Chief of Special Operations, FDNY; and Marlon Taylor, VP, NY & Atlantic Railway. Photo credit: New York & Atlantic Railway
  • New York & Atlantic Railway, LIRR support training effort with tunnel access in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NY — May 26, 2021 — New York & Atlantic Railway (NYAR) recently partnered with the Long Island Rail Road and the FDNY in conducting an emergency tunnel access training exercise involving more than 200 firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and emergency rescue responders in the East New York Rail Tunnel. This tunnel used by New York & Atlantic for rail freight services to and from Brooklyn is approximately 3,600 feet in length, making it an ideal training location. They demonstrated and trained first-responders on rebreather equipment in an underground environment, with smoke and other conditions that are similar to what the FDNY might encounter in an actual emergency.

A rebreather is a portable breathing device that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a user’s exhaled breath, essentially recycling unused oxygen.  Rebreathers have a significant advantage overself-contained breathing apparatus, typically worn by firefighters and rescue personnel. They can supply oxygen for more extended periods than standard oxygen tanks and are used in accessing and conducting rescues in tunnels, under collapsed buildings, in confined spaces, and in situationswhere the environment may be toxic. The FDNY and the Los Angeles Fire Department are the only two major U.S. cities with rebreathers.  

The exercise replicated a major multi-vehicle crash in an underground highway tunnel. Firefighters and rescue teams entered the tunnel in dark and smokey conditions and used rebreathers and various equipment to access and extricate victims. Approximately two dozen firefighters also participated as simulated victims extracted from vehicles, rescued, and provided on-scene emergency medical care.

“Giving the FDNY access to the East New York Rail Tunnel allowed them to train with their state-of-the-art rebreathing equipment in a real-world environment. The coordination of this effort was significant and impressive to watch,” said Marlon Taylor, Vice President, NYAR. “The recent training is part of an ongoing commitment to safety and one of several programs we have with public-safety agencies throughout the year to bolster emergency preparedness and inter-agency cooperation while protecting the communities in which we operate.”

“The use of this location allows the FDNY to train and experience the real environment for our Rebreather Task Force, said John M. Esposito, Chief of Special Operations, FDNY. “We are better prepared to respond to and mitigate these life-threatening emergencies because of the collaboration with LIRR and the New York & Atlantic Railway. We extend our thanks for the great collaboration. We all know that when we train together, we will work better together during real emergencies.”

About New York & Atlantic Railway
New York & Atlantic Railway began operation in May 1997 due to the privatized concession to operate freight trains on the lines owned by Long Island Rail Road. The railway serves a diverse customer base and shares track with the densest passenger system in the United States. New York & Atlantic Railway connects with CP, CSX, NYNJ, NS, and PW.  For more information about New York & Atlantic Railway, please visit https://www.anacostia.com/railroads/nya.

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